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Italian police bust migrant smuggling ring, arrest 19

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Rome, Dec 6 (IANS) Police in Italy have announced the arrest of 19 suspects who were part of a criminal network abetting illegal immigration.

On Saturday, the police described the ring as a criminal organization which illegally moved migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan into Italy and then helped them reach northern Europe by taking them across the border with France, reports Xinhua news agency.

The arrested persons, who organised sea crossings, fabricated documents such as housing and work contracts, and arranged night-time transport, were accused of “facilitating the entrance, stay and transit toward northern Europe of migrants”, the police said.

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The migrants each paid around 6,000 euros ($7,274) to be smuggled from Asia via Turkey and Greece into Italy.

Investigations began in 2018 following a migrant landing in Syracuse, eastern Sicily.

In August this year, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese had announced that over 21,000 migrants reached Italy between August 2019 and the end of July, up 148 per cent year-on-year.

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In the period, more than 5,000 people were rescued, mainly by ships operated by NGOs, according to Ministry data.

Over 80 per cent of the migrants reaching Italy left from Tunisia and Libya, the data revealed.

–IANS

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